Akiddie—a social enterprise that develops stories for children—believes "storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today", especially to empower the leaders of tomorrow (and today, if you will).
Anyone who grew up listening to Tortoise's tales, like the Tortoise and Hare, Tortoise and Lizard, and why the Tortoise has a crooked shell stories, would think of the Tortoise as a treacherous animal until they obtain new information about it.
Buh really, I'll pay to see a kid's facial expression when it hears the story of how the tortoise fell from d sky and cracked it's back— Cross˚ (@Elcrucifixio) July 1, 2013
From individuals to institutions, no one can deny the power storytelling wields. We are greatly influenced, maybe more than we will agree to, by the stories we tell ourselves and those other people tell us. The society as it is today is the result of stories shared in the past, and the stories being shared now will inform the society we see tomorrow.
Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today
For instance, most of the technologies we use today only existed in the imaginations of some sci-fi writers some years ago. And hitherto, patriarchy and gender inequality were recurring celebrated themes in our movies and novels: A princess will be in distress and a knight in charming armour or a prince will come to her rescue and both of them will live happily ever after.
But that is not the only problem Akiddie is solving—by creating socially conscious stories with African characters, the nine-month-old storytelling startup is also simplifying the 17 Sustainable Development Goals into stories for children, thereby making the goals part of the aspirations of children rather than some things adults are telling them to do.
Akiddie: Telling stories that matter
Last year December, Kachi Nwani, the founder of Akiddie, visited his sister in Lagos. It was his experience at her place and other observations he made that culminated in the launch of Akiddie in January 2019.
One fateful day, during his visit at his sister's place, Kachi decided to read his niece a story. But he observed that all the books in her sisters' library were foreign stories of events and characters his niece cannot relate with. "It was like the entire narrative introduced her to a world that she couldn't be a part of", Kachi said. "I also realized that there are very few children’s literature available in local languages".
This is where Akiddie comes in: to develop socially conscious stories for children in multiple languages, including Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, and English, in text and audio formats and make it accessible to everyone.
Children loves stories and they are influenced by them. A research led by Loris Vezzali, an Italian psychologist, found that children who read Harry Potter reduced their prejudice against immigrants. According to the research, the children were impacted by reading Harry Potter because they could identify with the characters in the book.
This can be replicated in Nigeria. Weaving themes such as selfless service and unity of all Nigerians, ethnicity and social background notwithstanding, into children stories with characters that are relatable will enable them to be better citizens as they grow.
In addition to that, Kachi said they are working on a tech series about a girl called Koko. "Each story in the series will be about how Koko is using technology to solve problems and it will be accompanied with tutorial videos showing how children can create the same solutions in the story", he said.
Imagine being able to build some of the things the Iron Man character used in the movies.
How to get started on Akiddie
Signing up now with your email will get you free access to seven stories out of the 22 stories written, illustrated and published by the Akiddie team.
Fun fact: The name Akiddie is the modified version of Kachi's grandfather's name, Akidi.
Later this year, Akiddie will be rolling out subscription plans for individuals and schools, and releasing more stories such as the Koko series.
"We are not just a storytelling company, we are heavily invested in the use of technology for effective, immersive storytelling experience", Kachi said. "Together with my co-founder, Tolu Wojuola, and other members of my team, we plan to create children stories in videos, 3D animations, and virtual/augmented reality".
The company aims to have published over 30 children series by 2020, and plans are underway to launch Akiddie in Senegal next year too. To blitzscale and achieve these targets, Kachi says, "we are currently raising funds, particularly for creating the 3D animations and augmented reality immersive storytelling experience".